safety. Yet, what kind of relation the never submerging thing has to the human, and conversely, how things stand with the relationship between the human [48] and the never submerging thing, could surely be easily determined if we finally just directly stated what the ‘never submerging thing’ is: for it is the lack of clarity surrounding this name that alone accounts for the enigmatic nature of the saying, since surely the other part that is mentioned in the saying—namely, the human being—is sufficiently known to us owing to the fact that we ourselves are human. However, precisely the opinion that we already know what the human is, and that we therefore also know how the essence of the human was experienced in inceptual thinking, is the greatest barrier we can encounter on our path toward understanding the saying. For the saying is, after all, a question. And we shall retain it as the question it is. We shall retain it even in the face of the suggestion, brought forth by the dictates of grammar, that the question is merely a pseudo-question, a so-called rhetorical question, precisely because it already contains the answer. Such a suggestion would further maintain that it is only the form of the speaking, and not the content of what it says, that has a questioning nature. Certainly, in some sense, the saying contains the answer in what it asks and how it asks. But how can someone understand an answer—and thus think of it as an answer—if he does not first take seriously the question that the answer answers? ‘Rhetorical’ questions are, in truth, themselves ambiguous. They can serve to distract from precisely what is questionable. They assume the appearance of the question, thereby giving the appearance that the question has already been posed, thus bringing it about that no further questions arise. Or, in assuming the mere guise of the question, they give themselves the appearance of an unquestionable answer, which so dismays us that it leads us to the questionable in the first place. The ‘answer’—namely, that no human could ever be concealed before the never submerging thing, as the saying of a thinker posed in the form a question—shifts into a thinking-after how, in what sense, and why that should be the case. [49] In this, however, the following question conceals itself: what is it that is named here as submerging (i.e., being-concealed)?

If no human can be concealed in relation to the never submerging thing, then it must be owing to the never submerging thing that every human—that is, every human as human (i.e., in accordance with his essence and indeed from out of the essential core of his human being)—stands in the unconcealed, so that in and through the never submerging thing the human is that which cannot conceal himself. What, however, is this τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε?

At first, we will linger with the attempt to think what has been named here in its essence. We will therefore initially only contemplate the first ‘part’ of the whole saying, and not yet pursue the question posed in it. For we can already see that the μὴ δῦνόν ποτε obviously remains the determinant from which arises the concealment and unconcealment of the human. We shall return to the question of the saying itself only when the sufficient illumination of the μὴ δῦνόν ποτε leads

40    The Inception of Occidental Thinking